Chapter 14:

Deez Balls

Grace Dances Upon the Clouds

How can I learn more about Grace?

That was a question that flooded Haru’s mind throughout the day. He was supposed to know everything about a person of his own creation, but Grace seemed different somehow like, like…

Some real person, ugh!

That was exactly how complicated the situation had become. Either his mind was playing tricks and he had truly gone crazy, or there was a one in a bajillion chance that something abnormal was going on. Of course, his gamer sense told him to ‘pull’ on that miniscule hope.

There was something about Grace that drew him in, regardless of how dumb his brain was trying to be. He had little minions of propaganda hammering away at the brain cells that invoked logic.

Shut up! Be dumb! This is the best chance for you to be dumb!

If you can’t be dumb inside your own head, where else can you? Huh? Huh!

Just Grace. Just Grace. Just Grace.

After that, his brain packed up and wished him ‘good tidings’. It took the nearest portal to Okinawa as the weariness kept him from coming up with any good ideas on how to move forward.

Maybe, I should start talking to the wall fixtures for some better ones. Ha!

Haru laid his head on his arms and felt like taking a nap… until he was rudely disturbed.

“I put my balls on your head, my balls on your head~~”

The pair of dangling objects jostled against Haru’s skull, making him slam the desk in annoyance.

“Damn it, Daichi! I was trying to think, you know! Couldn’t you have picked something less crude to get my attention?!”

“Best way to get a stir out of you is with some good ol’ guy humor.” The jock cheekily slung his net of soccer balls over his shoulder, giving him a shrug. “Anyways, you’ve been lost in thought for like, what now? Since this morning? The way you stiffly ate your lunch was like one of those ‘welcome cats’ at a store entryway.”

“Sorry that it takes more than two brain cells to consider.”

“If you’re still stuck, then let’s give those two brain cells a rest. I need a favor from you.”

Haru looked past Daichi, spotting Koichi throw out an apologetic wave before he bolted out of the classroom. He was just thrown under the bus, wasn’t he? From how Daichi was behaving, Haru likely had to prepare himself to sweat.

“Don’t tell me-”

“Mhm, our goalie’s out with an injury. Backup came down with the flu. It’s my job as the captain to find someone to fill in.”

“Is this revenge for stomping you at the arcade?”

“Nope, I figured that you spent some quality time with Koichi. Only fair that I have a turn at you myself.”

“Wait, so now I’m being passed around like a sampler plate?”

“Give it up, Harucchi. Your ass is mine for today.”

The relentless grip of someone that could lift Haru up with one hand and do squats told him that resistance was futile. It was either walk or be fireman-carried.

And Haru had his dignity to consider. He would surrender for a single afternoon.

A short while later, Haru found himself in front of a soccer goal, Daichi emptying his balls onto the ground. Stopping one from rolling, Daichi fired a shot right towards him. In the blink of an eye, Haru kicked off the ground and slapped the incoming ball away, volleyball style.

Haru was nowhere near as athletic as his friend. But he didn’t need to be; great hand-eye coordination made up for it. That was one thing he was proud of. Daichi kicked another ball at him. This time, Haru slid dramatically into its path, defending the goal.

“Heh, knew that you’d be a good choice. If only you’d have the guts to try out.”

“And wake up at 5am and rush to school for morning practice? What are you smoking?”

“The burn of your face eating grass!”

“Wha- ARGH!”

Daichi had put extra oomph into his next kick, sending the ball so fast that even Haru had lost sight of it. The ace strike that Daichi was known for suddenly appeared as a crushing force against his face, sending Haru backwards and grounded. He rubbed his face angrily before getting up.

“What the hell are you doing, using your special move on an amateur?!”

“Did that wake you up, finally?”


Haru was confused by the sudden change in the air around Daichi.

“I said, ‘are you finally with me?’ Cause you’ve had your head in the clouds or dreamland or whatever for a while now.”

“I told you. I was thinking about something.”

“For weeks now? Bullshit. You’ve been doing all sorts of things for a while. I’ve seen you ducking out of class in a hurry to be off somewhere. Trying all sorts of weird ideas. I figured, it was our job to look out for you as your buddies.”

Haru gawked at Daichi for a moment. It had certainly been strange for him to be called out so suddenly. There was no reason for Daichi to grab some outsider to fill in as goalie. Any other player would have been just fine.

“Is, is that why Koichi brought me to the jam session?”

“That was his way of connecting with you. This is mine.” Daichi folded his arms and shot him a look of confidence. “Look, I get that you have different priorities, but there’s no need to hide it from us. If you got a girl, then we’ll be right there, rooting for you.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m talking about that chick, Kato. It feels like you’ve been pretty chummy with her.”

“Ahhh, right…”

For a moment, Haru’s heart had stopped. But then he realized that he had been caught on ‘dates’ with her. At least, that was what it looked like to his friends.

“Hey, I was surprised too. We totally thought that you were the kind of stuck-up, ‘only in 2D is she hot’ guy that ends up in an arranged marriage set up by your folks with some corporate bigwig’s daughter.”

“Damn, does it really seem that way?”

“Does your face still hurt?”


Haru chuckled as he flung the ball back at Daichi, trying to nail him. Daichi simply stopped it with his palm, his other hand in his pocket. He looked so damn smug against Haru’s best attempt.

“All right, you win. I guess getting closer to girls isn’t such a bad thing. It’s time I stopped running from everything.”

“Good, I have plenty of advice as the resident chad! But for now, get ready for some heat!”

Daichi got into position. He dribbled the ball left and right, looking for the best place to wound Haru’s pride. And then, he slammed his foot against the ball without holding back.

“I see right through you!” Haru yelled as he leapt upward, eyeing the very top corner on the other side from where he stood. He watched as the ball slowly spun towards the predicted path.

Even though Haru knew where it would land, he could tell that it was veering too far to reach with untrained legs. Daichi knew exactly how to aim for any openings. That much, Haru could bank on.

Giving up wasn’t Haru’s style though. Gritting his teeth, his other hand gripped the top of the goal, and he pulled himself an extra few centimeters forward, just enough for the tip of his fingers to tap the soccer ball out of its path. A long ring echoed as the ball bounced off the side post and away from the goal.

“Huh, thought I had you….” Daichi smacked his fist in disappointment.

“Sorry, I’m a sore loser. If I know the game, I’ll do everything I can to play it.”

Daichi walked over and clapped Haru on the back.

“Alright, I’ll let you off for now. See you tomorrow.”

Daichi gathered his balls and made for the exit, but before he stepped off the field, Haru called out to him.

“Was the need for a goalie a lie?”

“Nah, we are down a few guys. But I think we’ll manage.”

“Should I try out then?”

Daichi whirled around, a look of shock on his face. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, I owe you one for being a prick, I guess.”

Haru could afford to shift his sleep schedule a bit for a friend. Especially one that looked out for him despite everything.


Sleep came readily that evening, the soreness of his limbs contributing to it. Fortunately, the muscle aches didn’t follow him into the dream world.

However, the balls did.


Grace was having a blast as the world of this evening had turned into a giant ball pit. Haru had to sigh as he couldn’t get ‘balls’ out of his mind. How childish his subconscious seemed to be today.

But as he watched glee overtake the dream fairy, he couldn’t help but smile and discard any maturity that felt misplaced in this setting.

“Speaking of which… Hey Grace! Look at deez balls!”

Haru held a pair of them over his crotch, anxiously waiting for a reaction. After all, Daichi had mentioned that it was the best way to invoke something within him.

Grace tilted her head, confused. “Yes… balls?”

She promptly returned to frolicking, waist deep in them. Clearly, she hadn’t gotten the memo.

“Huh… not what I expected…”

A calm indifference was hardly what he believed he held. At least, not internally. If it was any one of the random waifu tropes that he was used to, a range of reactions – from getting upset to flat out perversion – was what he expected of Grace.

Grace’s innocence wasn’t something that Haru had, not anymore. She truly embodied an innocent fairy lacking understanding of the real world. The more that Haru thought about it, the more distant Grace stood next to him.

How could he cross the growing boundary that diverged their existences?

Likely because Haru had been ignoring Grace, the latter got annoyed and took action. A wave of balls crashed into him, and suddenly, he found himself sinking into the depths. Balls all around him, he was drowning in balls, balls, balls.

“BALLS!!!” he shouted, sitting up suddenly in his bed. He looked around sheepishly, eyeing the 5 AM alarm he had set.

“Get a grip on yourself, Haru. Otherwise, you’ll start losing touch of not just reality.”

He leapt out of bed, hoping that his morning weariness would fade with the dream. All he could do was rely on his friends to keep him grounded going forward.

Taylor J
Lucky Lane
Mario Nakano 64
Steward McOy